Weekly News Update 4 October 2012

Mareb Press/http://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=47870

Highlight:
Houthi rebels seen gaining new influence in Yemen
Reuters — 3 October 2012
When riots erupted this month over an anti-Islam film made in California, Houthi rebels, long confined to remote corners of Yemen by then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, covered the capital Sanaa in posters, banners and graffiti denouncing the United States. Western diplomats and Sunni Islamists were taken aback by the sudden show of strength in a city from which the Shi’ite rebel group had long been banished. Analysts and diplomats believe that the ascent of the Houthis, named after its leaders’ family, has turned Yemen into a new front in a long struggle between Iran and Western powers and the Arab regimes they back, centred on a nuclear programme that Israel and the West say is aimed at making atomic weapons and altering the regional balance of power. Iran denies those charges.

In interview, Yemeni president acknowledges approving U.S. drone strikes
Washington Post — 29 September 2012
Yemen’s leader said Saturday that he personally approves every U.S. drone strike in his country and described the remotely piloted aircraft as a technical marvel that has helped reverse al-Qaeda’s gains. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi also provided new details about the monitoring of counterterrorism missions from a joint operations center in Yemen that he said is staffed by military and intelligence personnel from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
-Watch Hadi give a speech at the Woodrow Wilson center here.

U.S. Embassy Attack In Yemen Makes West Uneasy Over Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Role In Transition
Reuters via Huffington Post — 1 October 2012
Seven months after he reluctantly handed over the presidency, Ali Abdullah Saleh’s continuing sway over Yemen is worrying Gulf neighbours and Western nations who fear that the political transition could descend into chaos. While Saleh is held responsible by many Yemenis for the more than 2,000 deaths during last year’s uprising, it was the storming of the U.S. embassy on Sept 13 that appears to have jolted Western countries into changing their view of a man long seen by Washington as its best bet for containing militants.

National Dialogue:
Security Council calls on Yemenis to ensure transition milestones are met on time
UN News Centre — 28 September 2012
Commending the progress made by Yemen in its democratic transition, the Security Council today called on all parties to continue to honour the timetable for achieving key milestones along that path, including the upcoming national dialogue.

General strike to protest the lack of equitable appointments in the foreign ministry forces the closure of its office [Arabic]
Mareb Press — 3 October 2012
Employees of the ministry of foreign affairs carried out a general strike today protesting what they called favoritism and lack of equity in diplomatic appointments, leading to a closure of the offices of the ministry in Sana’a. An official who preferred not to be named stated that the lack of decisions to appoint about 30 ambassadors since the protests that toppled Ali Abdullah Saleh falls within the general political struggle.

Marginalized ‘Akhdam’ receive no government support at conference
Yemen Times — 4 October 2012
Hundreds of marginalized people, known as “Akhdam,” held their first national conference in Sana’a on Wednesday.  The disenfranchised group used the opportunity to demand their right to be a part of the upcoming National Dialogue.

Thousands demand retrieval of stolen assets
AP — 28 September 2012
Thousands have taken to the streets of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, demanding the recovery of assets they say were stolen under the country’s former authoritarian ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The protesters marched to demand return of millions of dollars they allege Saleh and his family stole during his years in power. Saleh, known as a wealthy ruler who led one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, stepped down after a yearlong popular uprising which forced him to relinquish power in return for immunity from prosecution.

Yemen should repeal Saleh immunity, open inquiry: HRW
Reuters — 27 September 2012
Yemen should repeal former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s immunity from prosecution and open a new investigation into one government attack on protesters during last year’s uprising that left 45 people dead, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

Haseba strife haunts residents
Yemen Times — 1 October 2012
Al-Haseba district still languishes in a complex humanitarian situation. Although the bloody clashes of the last year have mostly drawn to a close, what those confrontations left behind is striking. Haseba, which used to be one of the liveliest districts in the capital city, is now quiet and empty.

Hadi comes to Washington:
Hadi’s pro-drone comments garner negative response from Yemeni citizens
Yemen Times — 29 September 2012
A considerable number of Yemenis said they resented recent comments made by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi in the presence of American journalists and with respect to U.S. drone strikes in Yemen.

Yemeni president: I love drones
Foreign Policy — 28 September 2012
Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. this afternoon, President  Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen expressed unwavering support for the controversial CIA drone program in his country.  Hadi praised the “high precision that’s been provided by the drones,” adding that they leave “zero margin of error if you know exactly what target you’re aiming at.” He further acknowledged that drone strikes form an essential component of the campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) because of the Yemeni Air Force’s inability to carry out night operations with its aging fleet of Soviet-made MiG-21s. “It’s highly unlikely,” he said, that these aircraft “would be successful.”

Yemen’s Leader Praises U.S. Drone Strikes
New York Times — 29 September 2012
The president of Yemen gave an unqualified endorsement of American drone strikes in his country during a visit here on Friday, cementing his status as a favored counterterrorism partner of the United States.

Yemeni President Offers Washington-backed Drone Endorsement
Huffington Post — 28 September 2012
Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi offered a salient endorsement of the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes in his country, stating, “They have zero margin of error, if you know exactly what you’re aiming at.”

Security/Military:
Feuding tribesmen intimidate checkpoint-area residents
Yemen Times — 4 October 2012
The largely traditional districts of Khawalan, located 40 kilometers outside of Sana’a, and Sanhan, 20 kilometers from the capital city, in particular have a long history of contention. Locals attribute the disputes to revenge, but most are unclear as to the origins of the conflict. Most recently, in June, relations deteriorated when armed tribesmen from Khawlan, kidnapped Murad Al-Awbali, an influential figure in the Republican Guard and member of the Sanhan tribe.

Yemen officials say suspected US drone strikes 2 cars in south, kills 5 al-Qaida militants
AP via Washington Post — 1 October 2012
Yemeni security officials say a strike by a suspected U.S. drone has hit two cars in which al-Qaida-linked militants were traveling in a southern province, killing at least five of them.  The officials said all five known to have been killed in the late Thursday morning strike in Shabwa province were in one of the two vehicles. They had no word on casualties in the second car, and no further details on the identities of those targeted.

Two soldiers wounded in Yemen government building bomb attack
Reuters — 4 October 2012
Two bombs went off at the gate of the local council headquarters in Yemen’s southern city of Ma’ala, wounding two soldiers, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

Yemen says captured soldiers were studying in Syria
BBC News — 1 October 2012
Yemen’s defence ministry has denied that five military officers reportedly being held by rebels in Syria were sent to fight alongside government forces. An official told BBC Arabic that the soldiers had been studying at a military academy in Aleppo and were detained as they tried to travel home. The al-Nusra Front, an Islamist rebel group in Syria, posted a video on Sunday saying it had captured them.

Release expected soon for the 5 Yemeni soldiers currently detained in Syria
Yemen Times — 4 October 2012
Abdulrahman Barman, a lawyer at the HOOD Organization, a Yemeni human rights group, said three of the five Yemeni soldiers currently detained in Syria would be released as soon as possible, refuting that the soldiers have a connection to the Syrian regime. “The organization contacted Syrian organizations and activists in order to help release the detainees,” Barman said.

Yemen police arrest two Qaeda militants
AFP via Google News — 3 October 2012
Yemeni security forces nabbed two Al-Qaeda militants at a checkpoint in the southern city of Aden on Wednesday, a security official said. “Amar al-Maysari and Ali al-Jahafi, who are members of Al-Qaeda, were arrested at Al-Rabat checkpoint,” north of the port city, the official said.

Yemen upholds sentences against Qaeda fighters
AFP via Google News — 2 October 2012
A Yemeni appeals court upheld the death sentence against two Al-Qaeda members accused of carrying out several lethal attacks targeting security officials, the state news agency Saba reported Tuesday. The court in Sanaa “sentenced to death two Al-Qaeda militants convicted of killing military and security leaders during the period between July and November 2009,” Saba said.

Yemen suicide bomber dies in attempt on official’s life
Reuters — 29 September 2012
A suicide bomber killed himself and wounded four others in south Yemen on Saturday in an attempt to assassinate a government official who had targeted al Qaeda militants, a security source said. The attacker walked up to the parked car of Mohammed Aidarous, who heads a “popular committee” of tribal volunteers who helped the army oust militants from the town of Lawdar in Abyan province this year.

Gunmen shot dead high-ranking intelligence officer in Yemen’s Aden
Xinhua — 30 September 2012
Unidentified gunmen shot dead a high-ranking military intelligence officer in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden on Sunday morning, a government official told Xinhua. The masked assailants, who were on a motorcycle, shot and killed Ahmed al-Barakani, a colonel in the domestic military intelligence agency in Aden’s neighborhood of Tawahi before fleeing the area, the local government official said, requesting anonymity.

Al-Qaida suspects attack army post in southern Yemen, 2 dead
Xinhua — 3 October 2012
Suspected al-Qaida militants ambushed a Yemeni army post in the southern province of Lahj before dawn Wednesday, and two soldiers were killed and three injured, a government official told Xinhua.

Three die in Yemen as bomb goes off outside courthouse
Reuters — 27 September 2012
Three children died on Thursday in an explosion in front of a courthouse in a remote province of Yemen, where al Qaeda militants are challenging central government authority, a security source said.

GPC members dead after Al-Jawf anbush
Yemen Times — 1 October 2012
Sheikh Mansour Al-Iraqi, head of the General People Congress’ (GPC) branch in Al-Jawf accused Islah militiamen of attacking leaders of the GPC, leaving four dead and six others wounded. The GPC affiliates were returning from the Al-Jawf governor’s condolence in Nehm area, Sana’a-Marib Road, on Friday. Al-Iraqi said members affiliated with the Islah Party colluded with members from Shawlan Tribe to attack the convoy, which included members from Hamdan Tribe—known to be out for revenge with Shawlan Tribe—after passing by Fardah.

Yemen forces kill three Qaeda leaders in bomb factory raid
Reuters — 2 October 2012
Security forces on Tuesday stormed a house in south Yemen used by al Qaeda to make bombs, killing three militant leaders, the interior and defense ministries said. Yemen, a U.S. ally, has been in upheaval since a popular uprising ousted veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh in February. It has been struggling, with U.S. support, to suppress an Islamist insurgency that could menace nearby top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and sea lanes used to ship crude.

Southern Movement:
South Yemen separatist leader Baid boycotts talks
AFP via Google News — 30 September 2012
Yemen’s Southern Movement kicked-off Sunday a meeting calling for independence for the south from the central government in Sanaa, but the conference was boycotted by a leading separatist leader. Yemen’s prominent separatist leader, Ali Salem al-Baid, a former vice president who lives in exile, boycotted the conference, saying it was not well prepared. Baid, who a few days earlier had expressed his intention of not attending the conference, and his supporters represent a hardline faction of the movement.

Yemen separatists to boycott national dialogue
AFP via Daily Star — 3 October 2012
A Yemeni alliance of groups that want independence for the south of the country said in a statement Wednesday that they will boycott next month’s national dialogue proposed by the government in Sanaa. The Southern Movement “refuses to take part in the national dialogue conference” which will be held in mid-November, the umbrella group said in a statement concluding its three-day conference held in Aden, the capital of the formerly independent South Yemen. It called instead for a forum that takes place “under international supervision and aims at restoring the former (independent) southern state,” that lasted until 1990, the group said in the statement after the conference ended Tuesday.

Hirak conference elects Ba-Aom its president [Arabic]
Aden Post — 2 October 2012
Al-Hirak, which demands the secession of South Yemen, concluded today in Aden the sessions of its first conference with the election of Hassan Ahmed Ba-Aom as the president of the Supreme Council of al-Hirak. This conference was convened amidst the boycott and absence of the most distinguished faction of former Vice-President Ali Salem al-Bidh. Al-Bidh warned in a strongly worded statement two days ago that any actions taken by the conference would be illegal and unacceptable.

Hunger:
Millions Are Facing Food Crisis in Yemen, U.N. Agency Says
Reuters via New York Times — 29 September 2012
Nearly half of Yemenis go to bed hungry as political instability compounds a surge in global food and fuel prices, giving Yemen the world’s third-highest rate of child malnutrition, the World Food Program said Sunday.

Hungry Families In Yemen Land In Food-Assistance Safety Net
World Food Programme — 2 October 2012
WFP’s emergency safety net programme has been expanding dramatically, fuelled by the deepening humanitarian crisis in Yemen. At the beginning of 2012, WFP planned to deliver safety net rations to 1.2 million people during the year. In May, the numbers climbed to 1.8 million. In September, they jumped again, rising by another 2 million to reach 3.9 million people.

Economy/Governance:
Yemen’s capital plunged into darkness after tribesmen blow up electricity pylons
AP via Washington Post — 3 October 2012
Yemen’s electricity company said Wednesday protesting tribesman blew up main pylons a day earlier, cutting off power to the capital, Sanaa, and plunging it into darkness. Power outages are common in Yemen, where the cash-strapped government struggles with resources. Sabotage attacks on oil pipelines and electricity pylons are also common in the country, which is flush with weapons and where the government has little control outside the main cities.

Because of corruption and fraud in Yemeni ports, Yemen loses $720 million in customs duties annually [Arabic]
Mareb Press — 3 October 2012
Economic sources revealed that Yemen loses 90 percent of its actual customs duties at its ports due to a number of merchants falsifying invoices for goods purchased from abroad.

The Customs Authority denies study claiming internal fraud and corruption
Yemen Times — 3 October 2012
Abdulrazaq Al-Mirani, deputy assistant of Customs Affairs and Smuggling Combat at the Customs Authority, denied any truth to a study recently published by the Media Economic Center for Studies indicating that 90 percent of customs and tax revenues are lost at ports due to fraudulent processes carried out by merchants and customs employees.

Yemen’s Deputy Minister of Tourism: Tourism sector is our ‘real inexhaustible wealth’
Al-Shorfa — 2 October 2012
Mutahar Taqi, deputy minister of tourism in Yemen, said tourism represents a real, inexhaustible wealth for the country, adding that more attention should be given to this sector, especially after its collapse in 2011 as a result of the political and economic crisis that hit Yemen, costing the local economy nearly one billion dollars in losses.

Yemen Central Bank May Lower Interest Rate to Boost Lending
Bloomberg Businessweek — 1 October 2012
Yemen may lower its benchmark interest rate of about 20 percent to boost lending in the Arab nation, which ousted its President last year, central bank Governor Mohamed Awad Bin Humam says. “We will go about it progressively,” Bin Humam said in Kuwait City today. “Maybe it should be reduced to stimulate lending.”

Efforts continue to reconstruct the oil pipeline in Shabwa province; intense police and military reinforcements [Arabic]
Al-Masdar Online — 28 September 2012
Local officials in Shabwa said that a technical team is working to repair the gas pipeline that exploded three days ago. A correspondent for al-Masdar quoted officials as saying that the repair efforts came amidst a severe reinforcement of the police and the army.

Mareb Gas Power Station powerless again
Yemen Times — 4 October 2012
The Mareb Gas Power Station is once again out of order following Tuesday’s attacks by armed tribesmen. Mohammed Al-Shaibani, the general manger of the electricity transportation lines at the Public Electricity Corporation, said the electric technical teams continue to hold negotiations with Al-Shabwan tribes in Mareb in order to fix the damages Mareb Gas Power Station sustained Tuesday.

Minister pledges improved land, sea, air transportation
Yemen Times — 30 September 2012
Doctor Waad Badheeb, Yemen’s transportation minister, said he has future plans to improve the situation of air transportation in Yemen and to provide competing services to clients. In a press conference held Saturday, Badheeb said Yemen Airlines plays a leading role in providing services for passengers, particularly during the past year. In spite of the obstacles and the difficult situation the airline has been facing, Yemen Airlines has managed to overcome all difficulties, he said.

Relations with Iran:
Hadi: Iran is providing support for armed political groups in Yemen to compensate for the increasing likelihood of the fall of the Syrian regime [Arabic]
Al-Masdar Online — 29 September 2012
During a speech at Woodrow Wilson Center, President Hadi accused Iran of interfering in Yemeni affairs and trying to spread chaos and violence in Yemen, citing the discovery of six Iranian spy networks. Hadi added that Iran has imposed itself as a regional power and it is aiming to compensate for the impending loss of its strategic partner in Syria. It is trying to intervene in Yemen because of its strategic location between the wealthy oil states and the horn of Africa. He also said that Iran is trying to polarize the media and political opponents to preempt a political agreement under the US-Saudi organized GCC initiative.

President Hadi refuses meeting with Iranian president in New York [Arabic]
Akhbar al-Youm — 29 September 2012
Informed political sources in Sana’a said that President Hadi refused a request for a meeting from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the general assembly meeting in New York. A source said that a member of the Iranian delegation extended the request for a meeting to an official in the Yemeni delegation, but the Yemeni official argued that a meeting at the presidential (or any high) level would impossible as long as Iran continues to interfere in Yemeni affairs by supporting politically, financially, and military the Houthis and the Southern movement.

International Community:
Donors pledge extra $1.5 billion in Yemen aid
Reuters — 27 September 2012
International donors pledged another $1.46 billion in aid to Yemen on Thursday to help the poorest Arab country overcome financial challenges as it struggles to become a democracy against the backdrop of humanitarian and security crises.

Poverty in Yemen is region’s problem
The National — 3 October 2012
Poverty on the Arabian Peninsula will eventually have knock-on effects elsewhere. Yemen’s neighbours, such as the UAE, and allies, like the United States, can help by telling Yemen’s government that real reform is needed, and now.

Yemen, USAID sign $180 mln agreement for Abyan affected areas
Saba Net — 30 September 2012
Yemen and US Agency for International Development (USAID) signed here on Sunday an agreement of $180 million to support the development of the areas affected by the war against terrorism in Abyan province.

Hadi meets IFES president, NDI director
Saba Net — 1 October 2012
President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi has met at his residence in Washington with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)’s President and CEO William Sweeney and Senior Associate and Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Leslie Campbell.

New AIO ideas for Yemen
Yemen Times — 1 October 2012
The Amnesty International Organization reported there is a possibility Yemen will face further crises pertinent to human rights unless the government immediately acts to curb continuous violations in the country.

Women:
No Arab Spring Without the ‘Flower’ of Women’s Rights
Al-Monitor — 3 October 2012
Fahmia Al Fotih, a freelance journalist who has also worked for the UN Development Program, said that “it’s not spring for women in Yemen.” Only three women serve in the interim government, and they hold the same positions — ministers of human rights and social affairs and one slot in the prime minister’s office — that they did before former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was overthrown. Six of 30 members of a technical committee that is preparing for a national dialogue at the end of the year that is to lead to a new constitution are women, she said, and several have been threatened with death for taking part in the political process.

Youth:
University students demand separation of education and politics in new protest
Yemen Times — 4 October 2012
Sana’a University students staged a demonstration Wednesday demanding that studies resume separate from the political conflict currently inundating the university. Students also continued to   refuse the presence of military personnel on the university campus.

Students victim to political disputes
Yemen Times — 1 October 2012
On Saturday, Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindawa directed the minister of higher education to appoint Dr. Majdi Mohammed Aqlan as acting rector of Sana’a University, replacing Dr. Ahmed Al-Shaer Basarda. Basindawa called it a temporary procedure.

Mujeeb Al-Fatesh speaks to the Yemen Times
Yemen Times — 1 October 2012
Youth initiatives in Yemen have recently played important developmental roles and could attract a lot of Yemeni youth who appear to be very enthusiastic about involvement in such initiatives.

Children and adolescents speak up about sexual and reproductive health
Yemen Times — 2 October 2012
Children and adolescents in Aden and Lahj governorates have been empowered to organize campaigns, plans and activities about sexual and reproductive health. For more than two years, approximately 10,000 children and teenagers in these governorates have received training courses in reproductive health by Save the Children, an independent, international nongovernmental organization focused on children’s rights in developing countries.

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